The San Jose Earthquakes, playing shorthanded on defense and without the franchise’s leading goal scorer, Chris Wondolowski, in the starting lineup, hung tough against Deportivo Toluca FC Wednesday night in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, playing Toluca to a 1-1 draw before losing 5-4 on penalty kicks at Nemesio Diez Stadium.
The Quakes were in it until the very end, when Shea Salinas’ attempt to keep the shootout going went off the crossbar.
San Jose was dealing with the altitude in Toluca, which is nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, and played an extremely conservative game plan. Toluca held possession for almost three quarters of the match (71.8 percent) and had 36 shots to just 10 for the Quakes.
But after a scoreless first half, it was San Jose that got on the board first. Alba Harris drew a foul and the Quakes were awarded a free kick just outside their attacking third of the field. Salinas curled a ball from the right side and Ty Harden held off Toluca midfielder Wilson Tiago to head the back to the far post to beat a flatfooted Alfredo Talavera in the 56th minute.
Toluca got the equalizer in the 69th minute on a terrific strike from San Jose native Isaac Brizuela, who chested down a clearing attempt off a corner kick and got off a strong half-volley with his right foot to beat Jon Busch from 27 yards out.
San Jose had a terrific chance in the overtime when Wondolowski, who entered as a substitute in the 67th minute, got a shot on target in the 96th minute that was turned aside by Talavera. Alan Gordon pounced on the loose ball and put it in the net, but the goal was wiped off by a razor-thin offsides call.
Busch made a couple of big saves down the stretch, stopping Pablo Velazquez in the 98th minute and getting enough of his left hand on a header from Antonio Rios in the 118th to push it into the crossbar.
Toluca became the second team to advance to the semifinals, joining Tijuana, which beat the LA Galaxy Tuesday night to advance 4-3 on the aggregate. Cruz Azul was hosting Sporting KC Wednesday night, with Sporting KC coming in with a 1-0 lead in the aggregate, and Alajuelense and Arabe U. play Thursday after the first leg ended in a scoreless draw.
The Quakes return to their MLS schedule on Saturday when they visit Sporting KC at 5:30 p.m. Pacific from Sporting Park in Kansas City.